Shoftim ~ Aish Kodesh 08/20/09
Topics RHT-0505, RHT-0000, Deuteronomy, Bible, Torah, Elul, Pegliash of Giva, shofars, fear, Ruth, flee, matzo, Psalm 27, brokenness, tekia, shevarim, tehruah, tekia gedola, four, triangle, Rosh HaShannah, autumn, death, four worlds, trust, joy, music, abandonment, third meal, hope, pre-teshuva, sukkah, forgiveness, ten martyrs, Rabbi Akiva and Cain, alive, police, judges, eyes, ears, mouth, intimacy, dispirited, old age, kittil
CHANGING PATTERNS, ELUL, PEGLIASH OF GIVA. Tomorrow night we blow the shofars for the first time, since the month of Elul starts tonight. The more we prepare for an event (Rosh HaShannah), the greater the results will be. Why do Jews have fear at this time of year? Even the fish tremble in fear because the court is in session, we are being evaluated. Every relationship is a tango. There are no victims and oppressors. No matter what happens, everyone is implicated.
The Pegliash of Giva, which we studied last week, is also implicated, found it impossible to leave the abusive men in her life. Abused women not only gravitate towards abusive men, but they can evoke anger in otherwise reasonable men. Take the example of the daughter of Lot who was killed in Sodom for feeding an old man. She was in the wrong community and in her next gilgul as Ruth, she left that kind of community and joined the Israelites. We are trying to spiral upwards, and this upward movement can be seen at the end of the story of the Pegliash of Giva when the rich women, the poor women, the ugly women and the beautiful women all dance together in a circle before the men and told the men they had to look with different eyes and see their essence, see past the KLI. No one cared about their inequalities, and this is the messianic vision.
Sometimes you just have to run away. A lot of Jews did not leave Germany; if you do not run away you are implicated. We bake the matzo in a rush, 18 minutes, to remind ourselves that we sometimes have to go out with alacrity or we might not leave. [TRF: and Amalak taught me that we do not really know how long it took for the matzo to be made at the Exodus so the 18-minute limit was silly]
PSALM 27. In Elul we blow the shofars every day but Shabbos and we read Psalm 27 twice every day until Simchas Torah; this is halachah (Jewish law).
Â¬DEATH OF G*D CREATION STORY. If the circle with the tiny dot in the middle is the Birth of a Baby, the circle is the womb and the dot is the sperm. If this figure is the Created universe, the circle is dark space and the dot is a point of light. There was no place for the created universe since G*d was everywhere, so G*d had to make a space seemingly empty of Him. Free choice cannot happen when G*d is evident.
In order to create G*d (make His presence visible), we have to break ourselves, so the brokenness is reciprocal. G*d breaks Himself to allow us choice (existence), and we break ourselves to make His presence real. We like people who can bring a good exchange to the table. G*d wants a partnership with us.
SHOFAR BLASTS. The shofar creates a musical picture teshuva.
FIRST NOTE: TEKIA: Where I am right now, habitual behavior, present behavior.
SECOND NOTE: SHEVARIM: Tekia Shevarim broken into three. The breaking of the vessels. At Tisha bâAv the vessels are broken. The broken luchos (tablets) were more precious than the second set because they represented the broken hearts of the Jewish people. The sukkah is a hut with a broken roof. We break the clods of dirt in our gardens. Our lives are like a seed that we are planting.
THIRD NOTE: TEHRUAH: Sound the alarm! This is shevaratkelim broken into three, so it takes nine to make a tekia shevarim. Nine is the months of pregnancy, is the pregnant woman. It is a cry and a laugh because a woman in labor cries and laughs.
FOUR NOTE: TEKIA GEDOLA: This note is very, very long. It is teshuva, the new behavior, the new pathway. It is tenuous and skaky. The note is as long as the other three combined.
FOUR NOTES: There are four notes, one for each of the four states of consciousness and four worlds. We are trying to move from the ancient lizard brain to new places in our brain and create new neuropathways. The neuropathways that were created in childhood are very need and need to be renovated by repetition.
BROKEN INTO THREE: The original note is broken into three two times. The threes have to do with triangles. One triangle is truth, EMMET, the beginning and the end and everything in between.
I found this on the internet: Tekiah, teruah, tekiah: the central commandment on Rosh Hashanah is to hear the shofar blasts. What is so special about these three blasts? How do they relate to this being a period of tshuva-repentance-and self-reflection? How do they relate to the world we live in?
Rabbi Moshe Teitlebaum, z'l, the previous Satmar rebbe,1 likens the three notes of the shofar to three stages of a person's actions. The first note-- tekia- hints at a simple sound, without distortion, because a person is born righteous, a Divine part from above. The second teruah sounding is comprised of three short blasts and nine staccato notes. When a person sins, something internal breaks. The teruah is also evocative of the groaning and wailing of a person repenting and doing tshuva. The return of tekiah-an unbroken, whole sound, symbolizes a person returning to their elevated state. http://www.canfeinesharim.org/learning/torah.php?page=11333
HIGH HOLY DAYS ARE IN THE FALL. G*d is not found in the good and G*d is not found in the bad. G*d is found in the place where they meet. Autumn is the transition between summer and winter, the period of change. When the world around us changes, we are more likely to change. This is why Rosh HaShannah is in the fall.
USE YOUR DEATH. Start with the day of your death and work backwards. Act as if today is your last day. What would you be doing? Each one of you has chosen to be studying Torah.
The kittil (shroud) is worn by the man on his wedding day, for Kol Nidre (Yom Kippur) and during the seder.
FIRST LEVEL/WORLD: The highest level of Atzilute is tumah. This is the world of good and evil.
SECOND LEVEL/WORLD: Mutar v-atzur: permitted and forbidden behavior. This is less than the yetzar hara. It is forbidden to murder, to drive on Shabbos.
THIRD LEVEL/WORLD: Pussil, unusable. Not kosher.
FOURTH LEVEL/WORLD: Tumahn and tahar: obstruction to our potential. Blockage. Who can we be in the world? The birth is the blossoming of the potential of one cell. This is polishing the diamond, polishing your personality.
Hearing the shofar blown can make this visceral, which is more powerful than just studying these ideas.
NOTES ON PSALM 27 (page 190 of the Artscroll Sefard siddur).
Fear will stop any change. We need to conquer fear and to cultivate trust.
Lift me up on a rock: the tent of HaShem is the sukkah. The broken roof is a symbol of vulnerability. We are trying to change a habit. Habits, even hurtful ones, make us feel safe. We prefer the pain we know.
I will sing and make music to HaShem. What part of teshuva is this? Music is a right brain experience.
The psalm is tell us about pre-conditions for teshuva:
1. Reducing fear, not producing failure scripts in which we decide exactly where we are going to fail and then proceed to fail right on schedule. Fear guarantees repetition.
2. Increase vulnerability: live in the sukkah.
3. Increase trust.
4. Joy and music. Joy for no reason. It energizes and gives us the energy to change. We cannot change without joy. Joy enables us to be present. Sing, smile for no reason. Norman Cousins, who wrote Anatomy of an Illness regarding his battle with what was diagnosed as ankylosing spondylitis, used laughter to heal. The purpose of Shabbos is to put joy into your life. Joy should be a goal by itself. Be present just to be present. Be present without having an agenda. Shabbos is also a day without teshuva.
FEAR OF ABANDONMENT. We all feel abandoned due to being expelled from the womb and subsequent experiences. We are to reduce abandonment and increase joy. Watch for words that are repeated. In this case, the word presence is repeated. We have to have a feeling of presence and intimacy with G*d and others.
A place of intimacy is the Third Meal, Shalosh Seudos, of Shabbos. It takes a full day of Shabbos to begin to feel G*dâs presence, especially when we sit in the dark as the light of the day fades. When we are trying to control and fix the world, our egos make a lot of noise.
FORESAKEN. Everybody has to leave the house of their parents. The psalm says my father and mother have forsaken me: this is positive! The worst cases are those in which people are stuck at home. Hopelessness is a way people abandon each other. We are all running on hope, especially in the Warsaw Ghetto.
HOPE. The word hope is repeated. Hope is a necessary component of teshuva.
The G*d of Compassion will gather me up. The sukkah is built the way a mother holds her child: the right hand embraces and the left hand supports. This image is from the Song of Songs. This is a womb G*d, YKVK. Teach me your ways. We learn Torah from HaShem at birth when he touches our forehead.
And place me. Let me rest on a straight path on behalf of those who are against me. I have to disarm the person I am to become the person I want to be.
DERECH HA MELECH BY RABBI SHAPIRA
Forgiveness is a healing balm, a process of learning how to dance harmoniously with ourselves and others. A grudge is a place that we are hurt and we hold onto that hurt.
RABBI AKIVA AND THE TEN MARTYRS. Rabbi Hoffman says he finally understand the connection between Rabbi Akiva and the story of the ten martyrs, which we read on Yom Kippur. The ruler studied the Talmud deeply and really understood it. This is a very strange and challenging story. Studying and understanding the Talmud is very difficult. Why would a non-Jewish ruler do this? The ruler is studying the laws of kidnapping, he fills the room with shoes and invites the greatest scholars in. He tells them that Joseph was kidnapped by his brothers, who traded him for a pair of shoes, and since the brothers were not punished for their crime, he condemned the scholars to death. The sages were told from On High that this was the decree of Shamayim. Why would Rabbi Akiva be condemned to death for the kidnapping of Joseph by his brothers (operative word here is brothers)? This makes sense only if we understand that his first gilgul was Cain, who killed his brother, Abel.
The suffering of great people has a gyroscopic effect on the world; their suffering keeps the world in balance somehow.
ALIVE. Forgiveness and medicine are applied only to people who are still alive. To be still alive means people who are non-addicted, they havenât given up, they still have the power to choose. Teshuva is for parts of ourselves that are not addicted. You who trust in me are all alive today refers to this kind of aliveness, not the physical body. Life is potential for choice.
A tzadik is compared to an oak tree. Oaks are planted on the graves of our tzadiks near Sfat. One of those trees is over 1,000 years old.
Most of us live in a half and half world, the world of opposites. The tzadik lives in a world that is tahar. We are trying to create unity out of duality.
PARSHA SHOFTIM. Give yourself policemen and judges in the gates. The word for police and judges is actually in the singular, indicating that more is referred to here than the gates of the city, such as the individual human being. The gates of one single human being are the ears, eyes, nose, mouth, lower organs, totaling roughly seven. The job of the police is to protect and carry out the instructions of the judge. The judge may have good judgment, and if the police do not have good judgment, the results can be not so good. The eyes take in (although tears come out). The judge in the mouth deals with what we eat (coming in), the breath (in and out) and speech (coming out).
AISH KODESH, PAGE 212.
PURE AND SIMPLE. Why would we have guile with G*d? Out of shame? Tamim means simple and pure, or simple purity, although it is translated as without guile, not wholehearted. It means that we should not try to manipulate G*d, as in using magic, we should not be complicated. Teshuva is a simple acceptance of whatever happens to us, without projecting into the future. Our model for this is Abraham, who did not ask HaShem for a miracle and who did not protest when his wife was kidnapped. We always say we will daven and get close to HaShem tomorrow.
*The Aish Kodesh is using Exodus to comment on Deuteronomy. A key circle is the Torah scroll. We roll them and put the beginning into the end. The Torah is not time-based; it exists all at the same time.
PAIN, COMFORT, LISTENING, SPEAKING. Does pain make people listen better or shut off their listening? The Aish Kodesh talks about how Moses told HaShem that Pharaoh would not listen to him because the Israelites would not listen to him. Is this backwards? We are juggling complacence and arrogance. We can be opened or closed by pain or by comfort.
Moshe says that his lips were opened only on the merit of the Israelites, and when that merit ceased, his lips were stopped up. Your hope opens my mouth to speak Torah. Similarly, he says that G*d was preventing him from going into the Promised Land for the sake of the Israelites, so they could transition to a different leadership. [trf: this is the same image as the wellsprings of G*dâs abundance flowing through one person to be received by another person.]
The Aish Kodesh is telling his students that as long as he can speak, it is because of their merit.
When old people are dispirited it affects everyone, because we all know that we are on the same conveyor belt.
Rabbi Henoch Dov teaches in Denver, Colorado. You can contact him through his web page, www.RabbiHenochDov.com or via email email@example.com.
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